Thumbnail image of: Male Pelvis: Illustration

Infertility in Men: Brief Version

What is infertility?

Infertility is not being able to get pregnant after having sex without birth control for at least a year. It can be caused by problems in a man’s or a woman’s body.

What is the cause of infertility in men?

Most often, a man is not able to get a woman pregnant because his body does not make enough sperm or the sperm are not normal. Problems with sperm can happen for many reasons. For example:

  • You have been around chemicals or radiation.
  • You have a genetic problem you were born with.
  • You have had an infection.

Some of the things you do may affect how many sperm you have. For example:

  • You smoke.
  • You drink too much alcohol or use street drugs.
  • You are in hot tubs too much.
  • You wear tight underwear.
  • You have sex too often (every day).

Some diseases (such as diabetes) and medicines can also cause problems. Lubricants used during sex may also make it harder for your sperm to get your partner pregnant. Also, men are less fertile as they get older.

How can I find out what is wrong?

You and your partner will be examined by your healthcare provider. You will be asked about your sexual history and your medical history.

You may also have these tests:

  • A test of your semen and sperm
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound scan

How is it treated?

If your healthcare provider finds a problem that makes it hard for you to get your partner pregnant, he or she will treat the problem.

You may need to do one or more of these things:

  • Don’t take long, hot showers. Stay away from hot tubs and saunas.
  • Wear boxer shorts rather than jockey shorts.
  • Don’t have sex every day.
  • Stop smoking or using illegal drugs.
  • Don’t have more than 1 or 2 drinks of alcohol a week.
  • Take hormones.
  • Take medicine to help you make more sperm.
  • Take medicine for an infection.
  • Get treatment to help with ejaculation problems.
  • Try other treatments or have surgery.

How can I help prevent infertility?

There are many things you can do to lower your chances of being infertile.

  • Use latex condoms when you have sex and have sex only with your partner. This helps prevent infections you can get from sex.
  • Don’t use lubricants during sex.
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Don’t use street drugs.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Stay away from chemicals that can hurt you, like weed killers and chemicals at work.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-02
Last reviewed: 2014-12-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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